1. Restaurants and Coffee Shops
Locally owned eateries and coffee bars are everywhere and I've shown art in both. I've had sales from both as well. One of the benefits is that opposed to a gallery setting, people tend to sit for a while while eating dinner or drinking their coffee. This means they may look at your work for quite some time, over and over during the course of their stay. In my experience most of these establishments don't charge a hanging fee and many don't charge a selling fee either. You can just hang a tag with your contact information and potential buyers call you directly.
2. Local Non-Art Events
Is there a 5k run in your area? What about a battle-of-the-bands? Just because an event isn't focused on visual art doesn't mean you can't set up a table and sell some of your work. I've set up at concerts, car shows, and an art store's grand opening to name a few. Keep up with what's happening in your town and contact the people running the events. I've been allowed to set up for free at these types of shows so even if you don't sell anything, you're not out any money. If they tell you they don't have proper permits to allow you to sell, ask if you can paint live and hand out business cards. Let them know that your demonstration will enhance their event.
3. Local Art Events
Arts and craft shows are everywhere. Try to find a few within a few hours drive and not just ones in your home town. Some events are indoors and provide tables, some are outdoors where you will need a display. Consider this with your budget and find the show that's right for what you want to do. There are usually fees for these kind of shows, but people who attend art fairs are usually looking to make purchases. Be friendly and confident and you may be surprised at the results.
4. Independent Businesses (non food)
Independently owned stores such as clothing boutiques, surf and skate shops, and florists are great places to approach. Make sure you tell the owner or manager the reasons it will benefit them to allow your art on the walls. Don't go in asking for a favor. Make sure your art fits their theme (if you paint landscapes, go to the florist and not the skate shop) and let them know that you will send customers their way through social media and word of mouth. "I'll tell everyone my art is in your store!" They may or may not charge a commission fee for selling your work but the more you can convince them that hanging your art will benefit their business, the greater the chance that they won't charge you.
5. Your Own Home
That's right. You live in a potential art gallery. Get some work together with information tags and throw a party. Provide great snacks, get an awesome music playlist going, and invite everyone you know. Hang your work in every room and encourage people to look around. Let them know it's an art party and that you are offering every piece on the walls for purchase. Show them where you make the art and get them excited about where you want to go with it. If you have a Paypal account or a Square reader you can accept credit card purchases on your phone, right at home.
The goal of these opportunities is really just to get your art out there. Even if you sell nothing it's never a total loss. People will see your work, give you feedback, and perhaps tell someone you don't know that they should look at what you're creating. Being a successful artist does NOT mean getting famous or being hung in the right galleries or making boat loads of cash. It's about continuing to create and sharing your creations with everyone you can. Selling the art is just a bonus.
Shop online at http://www.bryancollins.etsy.com